There are no spoilers in this review.
Darius The Great Is Not Okay, Adib Khorram
Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran.
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.
Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.
Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.
Darius The Great is Not Okay is one of these books I had on my TBR ever since it was, like, announced years ago. It was one of these books I was so deeply convinced I would love that it took me somehow another year after it released to get to. I actually found a signed copy of it on my holidays in Toronto and, luggage weight be damned I had to buy it. Broke my back squeezing it in my backpack for my 17 hour-journey back home this summer and, friends.
It was so worth it.
- Darius is one of these books where you feel like not much is happening, but everything is actually happening. It’s like, life. It’s gradual, it’s little things happening day by day, every single day until you realize your life is different and so are you. That’s what this book is, a piece of life, character-focused and so, so wonderful.
- I would protect Darius with everything I have. Gradually, I grew so, so very fond of him and by the end of it all I was sobbing for him and with him, I just wanted to hug him. Honestly that’s when you know you love a book, when you want to hug the characters. Darius is awkward and wonderfully sweet and quotes Lord of the Rings all the time in his head and just wants to do his very best and let me hug him please and thank you.
- Darius’ growth through the story was absolutely wonderful and I adored following it all as he grew more confident, even as he struggled. His growth wasn’t linear, but you know what so is life.
- The family, oh, the wonderful family. Darius goes to Iran to meet his mother’s family for the very first time and oh, my heart. There were moments of adaptation and awkwardness, moments of hugs and love and all of the warmth of the world as they got to know each other and grew close and I’m soft.
- I loved that Darius could discover this part of him he hadn’t known too much until this moment, his family in Iran and the country just as well. I loved it all, the exploration of Darius’ heritage and discovering Iran with him, the culture and holidays and language and I felt swept away by it all.
- The father and son relationship, one of the most complex and realistic relationships I’ve read for sure. I loved how central it was to the story, too, the way Darius felt about his father and how their bumpy relationship grew and evolved through the story.
- Oh, the friendship was so lovely. You know how you can just sit next to someone and feel content with it all, without having to speak? That’s the friendship in this book and that’s one of the most accurate and lovely friendship I’ve ever read about. We need to read more stories with wonderful and open male friendships like this one.
- ALL the feelings in this story. Of not belonging, of trying to fit in, of not being good enough, of the awkwardness of it all, life, friendship, discovering his roots for the first time. All the emotions. Everything just made me emotional by the end okay.
- The mental health and depression rep were absolutely wonderful. It’s not a book about depression, it’s a book with main characters dealing with depression and… we need more of these. We saw how depression affected Darius in his day to day life and how his family perceived it, the mood swings and anxiety and overwhelming feelings taking it all over and it was A+ rep and everything was just so well-written.
- I cried. That’s it, that’s my point.
I HAD A HARD TIME WITH…
- I… honestly don’t even know.
Darius The Great Is Not Okay feels like one of these slow contemporaries, the ones that just take you into someone’s life and, without you even realizing it, sweeping you away in another life, in another world, making you care so much for a character you end up crying because everything is not okay and it’s okay. If you haven’t read this one and are a fan of contemporary reads, I’d recommend you meet Darius right away and, hopefully, love him as much as I do.
Final rating: A hurricane of emotions.
Trigger warnings: depression, bullying, suicide-idealisation, fatshaming (challenged), stigma against depression (challenged), terminal illness, death, racism (challenged)
Diversity: biracial main character (Iranian & white), he’s fat and has depression. The MC’s father has depression, Iranian main and side characters, Baha’i main character. The main character might be queer, but it’s not stated in the book, only hinted at.
Did you read Darius The Great Is Not Okay? Do you want to?
What was the last book that made you feel all the emotions? Let me know in comments!